<< by on February 18th, 2008
Last Tuesday was primary day in Virginia, Maryland, and D.C. After hearing the special radio messages of all three major remaining candidates about 2,460,337 times I was relieved the big day had finally come. Seriously, though, I personally am encouraged by how enthusiastic the general public has become in this year’s races. The New York Times Politics Blog is reporting that primary voter turnout records are being shattered in all three races that day.
With so many citizens obviously invested in the race, Google is now getting in on the act. Google Checkout is offering a way for individuals to donate to the campaigns of their choice.
Federal candidates can sign up for a Google Checkout account and use it to collect donations on their websites. But more than that, candidates may allow supporters to feature the button on their websites, blogs, or social network profiles.
Overall, I’ll be interested to see how this project pans out for Checkout, branching from e-commerce to the industry of politics. It’s an interesting idea on the surface. The Checkout blog points out how the new tool will bring the democratic process closer to the people.
Christopher Soghoian and Markus Jakobsson from Indiana University have written a white paper on how large online payment processing companies are in a position to reduce the threat of political phishing (fraudulent sites masquerading as authentic campaigns and asking for donations online).
…But think of all the data Google could collect with this! Contributors’ names, addresses, employment and other demographic info- even past purchases and buying patterns associated with their existing Google Checkout accounts. It’s the same old question of how much we trust services like Google with our information. But in the end, this seems to offer a great new way for people to get involved in the political process.